Though it has been a year since the pandemic first started with waves of lockdowns and strict guidelines for colleges, not much has changed in the eyes of college students looking towards the prospect of graduation. Similar to last year, many options are under review by SUNY New Paltz and surrounding colleges. This means there’s a myriad of potential graduation ceremonies, from fully virtual to hybrid and even a version of in-person celebrations with limited guests.
However, New Paltz has been silent when it comes to any options for this year’s commencement, even though there is a designated page for questions and concerns about the ceremony. An email request for more information only led to the same result: “At this point, we are still waiting for guidance. Please connect back in a couple of weeks and hopefully by then, can give you more details for your story,” was the response from Lisa.
New Paltz recently sent students a few emails regarding caps and gowns for the elusive ceremony, signifying that the company used for these garments needs a month to process each order. Caps and gowns currently cost $49 for the basic set, and additional costs for honors cords and other significant extras.
Another request that was sent out included information on senior portraits. While initially it was required that off campus and commuter students quarantine for seven days prior to picture day, that restriction was soon lifted and changed to a COVID-19 test requirement the day of the event.
“I graduated in December so I fell out of the loop of the going ons at school, including the ceremony info,” said recent graduate Maddy Lee. “I recall that there were a bunch of Zoom meetings in one day but I missed it because my mom’s COVID-19 vaccine was rescheduled to that day. I don’t know if they even recorded any of those Zoom meetings and as far as I know, no other information was sent.”
As of now, May 2020 graduates as well as December graduates are being told that they could potentially participate in any ceremony that takes place in May 2021. This is of course dependent on COVID-19 restrictions and cases in the area, so any information is subject to change at any time.
Other colleges and universities have started to come out with information on their graduation ceremonies. Syracuse University posted on March 30 that their commencement will be held in person, though changes might be made to the celebration activities planned. The convocations will be virtual, but the commencement ceremony will go on with modifications.
Marist College also intends to give their students a “well-deserved commencement ceremony” when state and county regulations permit that.
For updates and FAQ’s about this years commencement ceremony at SUNY New Paltz, visit www.newpaltz.edu/commencement/u-faq.html. For more detailed questions, the administration is asking everyone to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on April 1, before more information about commencement was sent out.